Discover why WiFi disconnections can occur and learn what you can do to fix and prevent it from happening in the future.

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Key points

Many network issues can be solved with a few quick fixes:

  • Hardwire as many devices as possible. The fewer items you have competing for WiFi, the faster the remaining wireless devices will work.
  • Power cycle the WiFi modem or router for 30 seconds.
  • Only use WiFi channels 1, 6 or 11. See Understanding interference for more info.
  • Locate the WiFi router or access point as centrally as possible.
  • Upgrade to newer generation wireless AC capable equipment. This applies to both routers and devices like computers, phones and tablets.
  • If your device can see both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, use 5GHz for best speeds and reduced interference and use standard 2.4GHz only if far away from the signal as it runs slower.

Power cycling equipment

Power cycling all equipment is the best first step you can take for connection issues you may be facing.

To perform this to your Shaw WiFi modem, simply:

  1. Unplug the power cable from the back of the WiFi modem.
  2. Wait 30 seconds.
  3. Reconnect the power cable into the back of the Internet modem.
  4. Wait for the Online light to go solid green.
  5. Connect to your WiFi network and test to see if the connectivity issues are still present.

Most devices will use the same basic steps. For computers, shut them down first.

Restoring WiFi modems

This process will restore your WiFi modem to default settings. This means that if you manually customized the password or network name, this information will be lost. To find the default network name and password find the white sticker on the top or side of the WiFi modem and refer to the SSID and Passphrase or Pre-Shared Key.

  1. Locate the small pin-hole reset button located on the back of the Shaw WiFi Modem.
  2. Push and hold this button down for 30 seconds with a paper clip or pen. This will cause the modem lights to begin to flash, and after a few moments the modem will come back online.
  3. Reconnect to your WiFi network and test to see if the connectivity issues are still present.

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Changing wireless channels

Changing the Wireless broadcast channel can be an effective way of reducing interference from other WiFi networks around you or from a variety of wireless devices. See understanding interference for more info.

While 11 channels are presented, you should only ever pick either 1, 6 or 11. Because the width of a channel is actually wider than the channel number, the only channels that don’t overlap are 1, 6 and 11. Imagine a 3 lane highway that was actually painted to have 11 lanes; using a middling lane will cause an accident, not get you there faster.

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Instructions on how to change your WiFi channels can be found on residential Community Space here: How to Change the Wireless Channel on Your Shaw WiFi Modem.

Understanding interference

Interference can be caused by a large variety of devices, mostly from other devices on your own network or neighboring WiFi networks, but can also include:

  • Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
  • Microwave ovens.
  • Cordless phones.
  • Garage door openers.
  • Any other devices that may be broadcasting wirelessly.

Unlike wired connections, which are dedicated, wireless devices have to share the wireless connection with all other devices. Even if your subscribed plan might be 120Mb/s, if your WiFi router tops out at 60Mb/s, you won’t get full speeds wirelessly. If you have three wireless devices simultaneously trying to use that same 60Mb/s capable router, the speeds you get on one device could be only 20Mb/s or less. So your single device is getting interference from co-workers on the same network.

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Similarly, if there’s 5, 10, 20 or more networks around you, all with many wireless devices connecting, the speeds could be greatly reduced from all this usage. Like the highway analogy above, if you’re not the only car on the road, you might suffer slow speeds during congestion.

The best options are to reduce competition on the network by using a hardwired Ethernet connection whenever possible. If your router can use 5GHz (sometimes called 5G) wireless, try to use devices only on 5GHz when possible. The 5GHz band can handle a lot more devices and runs faster too. It’s not as compatible with old devices and has a more limited range, so reserving 2.4GHz use for only older devices or equipment far from the network can help.

Understanding impedance

Impedance is anything that reduces the power of the WiFi signal. Think of trying to talk to someone through a wall compared to face to face in the same room. Without the wall impeding your voice, you can talk more quickly, clearly, and it’s easier to be understood.

WiFi is basically light, just at a much lower frequency. You might even say that WiFi is a color of light that we can’t see. The WiFi modem puts out a bright signal, and different things in your environment will ‘dim’ signal making it hard for your devices to ‘see’ the WiFi. A good analogy would be how you can see a flashlight shine through a piece of paper, or through your hand, but if you try to shine it through a wall, you’re likely not going to see anything.

Here is a list of common things found in an office that can impede the WiFi signal:

MaterialImpedance Level
Air Very Low
Wood Low
Drywall Low
Thin glass Low-medium
Thick or double/triple pane glassMedium-high
Water Medium-high
Brick Medium-high
Concrete High
Metal Very High
Mirror Very High

Newer WiFi equipment has made great strides in being able to overcome some obstacles a little better, but there’s still no getting through thick concrete walls.

This makes placement of the WiFi modem or access point critical to ensure impedance is minimized. Our technicians assess the business at install, and will try to position the modem to maximize coverage within the space. If you are having issues getting WiFi in a particular place in the business, try moving the modem to reduce the number of things that may be in the way that could impede the signal.

WiFi equipment capabilities

WiFi technology is named 802.11, with a letter added to the end to indicate the generation of the technology, with each new generation offering more performance, range and ability to overcome interference from other wireless devices.

Similar to improving generations of iPhones or Android, each generation gets better. When WiFi was first standardized, the protocol was named B, then G, then N and most recently 802.11AC.

These standards transmit and receive data via a radio-style connection between the access point and the client using two possible frequencies, 2.4GHz for all generations, and more recently in 5GHz on most newer N and AC models.

  • 2.4GHz has longer range, but can’t be used by too many devices simultaneously, and can’t go as fast as the latest business Internet plans allow for.
  • 5GHz can’t communicate as far from the wireless router or access point, but can go much faster and handle more wireless devices before running into issues.
  • Newer WiFi technology has improved greatly. If you encounter repeated issues and don’t have AC capable router and computers, consider upgrading to newer equipment.
  • Large areas can require multiple access points for full coverage. Solutions like SmartWiFi or others that use multiple access points allow the same network to be used throughout a large space.

Security concerns

WiFi access for customers can be a popular request at businesses. To avoid security concerns though, this should only be done by way of separate guest networks, either by using two routers, or newer options that can broadcast a second, separated guest network.

Shaw’s SmartWiFi plans do this, as do many newer 3rd party routers. Properly setting up a guest network will ensure that guests can’t gain access to important business information, including other customer data like credit cards.

Sites that only have one WiFi network should generally limit the use to internal business use and not provide the access to guests.